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Gratefulness – by Robert Genn

by Robert Genn

Among our fellow presenters at our recent workshop at Hollyhock on Cortes Island was 82-year-old Benedictine Brother David Steindl-Rast. David is perhaps unlike your standard idea of a Roman Catholic monk. He's a free-ranging purveyor of wisdom, apparently open to other traditions, a revolutionary against rigid systems and personally pitching a greener, gentler, safer, less ignorant earth. I thoroughly picked up on his ideas about gratefulness.

It might be that gratefulness is the very basis of an evolved creative life and a life well lived.

When creative folks begin to see their work as service, they gain fresh power to do well and perhaps greatly. This service need not be in the honour of a deity or even a higher power. It is however, the internal recognition of a higher calling. When we produce work for charity, as unsolicited gifts, with a sense of mission whether commercial or not, or merely for the joy of honouring the gifts of our environment, we begin to extract our true power.

As people serve well, so are they grateful. As people are grateful, so do they serve well.
Our world is currently suffering from pervasive setbacks. Rioting, dishonesty, greed and malfunction haunt the streets, offices and chambers of government. The true enemies of mankind--fear, ignorance, hatred, poverty and starvation seem once again on the rise. A murky pall of hopelessness and despair floats above our cities and towns. As we watch the world's juices being squeezed, it is easy to say "why bother." We artists, often the sensitive ones who struggle alone, are not immune.
Nevertheless, taking our materials into our hands, we begin to move along a higher path. Rising to serve, we raise both our quality and our self-worth. To feel the clay between the fingers, the brush in the hand or the sound of music plucked, blown or struck, is to move toward the grace of gratefulness. Life is a privilege, and those of us who choose the path of creativity, may just be the most privileged of all.

We all have our unique motivations. In all the cults and orthodoxies, and in the absence of them, simple gratefulness need not be overlooked. For some, the mere gift of a new day may be enough.

Best regards,

PS: "Gratefulness is the great task, the how of our spiritual work, because, rightly understood, it re-roots us." (David Steindl-Rast)

Esoterica: At Hollyhock my easel was left set up overnight under an apple tree. In the early dawn I saw from a distance it was visited by a doe and two fawns. Silently I approached, and the three deer tiptoed lightly into the woods--but not before each took one last apple. Could I not be blessed by the near presence of such beings? Could I ever find a greater reason to pursue my day? Could it be so difficult to be grateful?

Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to post from his twice-weekly  newsletter. For more of his artistic insight, visit his website at www.painterspost.com.

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